The Jazz came into Thursday night’s game against the Suns on a three-game winning streak. Utah was coming off of a win against Cleveland on Monday in a nationally televised game. The Saint Patrick’s Day crowd against Phoenix wasn’t as energetic as the bunch that came to see LeBron. But the Jazz got a huge win against the beleaguered Phoenix Suns. The Suns have struggled this season, dealing with malcontent players and a coaching change. Thursday’s game was one that the Jazz were expected to win. They did it in blowout fashion, avoiding a letdown and building momentum.
With Gordon Hayward missing his second straight game, other players were given the opportunity to contribute in meaningful minutes. Rodney Hood wasn’t as dominant against Phoenix as he was against Cleveland. However, the Jazz were able to rely on a balanced offensive attack. No Jazz player scored over 20 points. Instead, five players scored in double figures. Shelvin Mack came close to getting a triple double for the second straight game. He finished with 15 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds.
With Devin Booker coming into town, there was a lot of conversation about whether the Jazz made the right pick taking Trey Lyles. Trey proved to be unfazed by the comparisons to his former Kentucky Wildcats teammate. The main knock on Lyles is that he isn’t a shooter. In Thursday’s game he outshot Devin Booker by a wide margin. Lyles was 6/10, going 3/5 from three-point range. Booker only shot 3/14 overall, and 1/5 from beyond the arc. While it’s only one game, it’s a nice shot in the arm for Lyles, who has received a lot less attention than his former teammate this season.
Joe Ingles was active and involved on both ends of the floor. He scored 15 points on 6/8 shooting, and 3/5 from three. More importantly, though, was Ingles’ involvement on the defensive end. He had a career-high of six steals.
The Jazz controlled the game from beginning to end. Their defensive effort in the second half was especially impressive. It took phoenix almost half of the third quarter to get their first points of the second half. The Jazz only allowed the Suns to score over 20 points in the first quarter. The last three quarters of the game saw Phoenix score 17, 16, and 15 respectively. At one point the Jazz led by 38 points in the fourth quarter. The Jazz finished with their best defensive performance of the year. Phoenix only scored 69 points during the entire game. The Jazz held the Suns to 34.1% shooting overall, and 25% from three. Phoenix was also only 50% from the free throw line. The fans were rewarded with Chick Fil A when the Suns missed two straight free throws on two separate occasions. The Jazz cruised to a 103-69 victory.
The Jazz now head out on a five-game road trip. They face Chicago on Friday, followed by Milwaukee, Houston, Oklahoma City, and Minnesota. This road trip will more than likely be the turning point in the season for the Utah Jazz. A good showing in this trip could put the playoffs comfortably in reach. If the Jazz don’t steal one or two of the more intimidating games they could face an uphill battle to get the eighth seed. They also must take care of business against the teams with losing records. A win against Chicago would set a nice tone for the home stretch.
Joe Ingles – 15 points, 4 rebounds, 6 steals:
Trey Lyles – 17 points:
Rodney Hood – 8 points, 3 rebounds:
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